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The Definition of RSVP

Back when I was a kid, one of my sister’s most prized possessions was a jaunty, bright yellow umbrella whose size is just perfect for a child. She loved it and used it whenever it rained while I looked on enviously, sharing the boring adult umbrella with my mother. On its cheery fabric was a picture of a smiling Singa the courtesy lion, and beneath him were the words “Courtesy – it’s a way of life”.

Years later, it seems that the courtesy campaign that the gahmen (Singlish for “government”) forced down our throats have had no effect at all. Are people really more polite? Have we become more considerate?


I have always resisted planning outings and events for a large group of people, be it a simple movie outing or a large-scale VC party. It becomes a logistical nightmare, trying to figure out who’s going and who’s not because afterall, everything hinges on the participants. I waste my monthly text message quota on asking around for interested parties. And then, I spend more money going after people whom I had sent out messages to but had not received replies from, when my message stated clearly for them to RSVP.

According to Dictionary.com, RSVP is an acronym that stands for French phrase “Répondez s’il vous plait“, which means “Please Reply“. Perhaps my interpretation of RSVP is different from everybody else’s because I read it as my answer to the host is necessary, whether it’s in the negative or affirmative. Meaning, even if I don’t intend to make it to the proposed gathering, I will respond to the sender. This not only assures the host that you are alive and have received the message, but also that he can go ahead with his plans without you.

Somehow, not everybody shares my interpretation, when people simply do not respond. I could just ignore their silence and go ahead but I worry that the cause of their silence is due to the fact that they did not receive my messages and not out of disinterest. Lately, however, I have come to realise that some people are just not schooled in consideration and courtesy, and have no qualms about ignoring the “RSVP” indication.

Is this a sign of self-centeredness?
Probably so.
But it sure ain’t my business anymore.

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